Tag Archives: war crimes

Accountability for war crimes? ICC

When and how will Israel be held accountable for war crimes committed during its 51-day Operation Protective Edge in 2014?  The operation killed 2,251 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians, including 299 women and 551 children. The operation also caused massive destruction to 18,000 homes and other civilian property, including hospitals and vital infrastructure.

Most of the destruction and damage has not been repaired in the past three years. Neither has any serious investigation been conducted.

Two legal NGOs in Israel — Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and Adalah — have been absolute bull dogs, pushing the Israeli authorities to comply with their responsibilities under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL). For the past three years, they have submitted petitions, complaints, claims and every manner of documentation to press for justice for the victims of Operation Protective Edge. To no avail.

IHL and IHRL require Israel to investigate allegations of suspected violations committed during Operation Protective Edge, with independence, impartiality, effectiveness, promptness and transparency and to prosecute those allegedly responsible.

But as with its inquiries into past military operations, Israel has delayed, denied, deflected and dismissed every attempt by the United Nations and others to come clean with its actions in Operation Protective Edge.

That hasn’t stopped Israeli soldiers from talking about their experience in Operation Protective Edge.

On August 28, 2017, Al-Mezan and Adalah published their 9-page report documenting their attempts to hold Israel accountable — Gaza 3 Years On: Impunity over accountability Israel’s unwillingness to investigate violations of international law
in the Gaza Strip. No surprises here.

The cases concerned severe events that resulted in the killing and serious injury of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, and the massive destruction of civilian objects. The evidence in these cases suggested that the attacks were carried out in violation of the principles of distinction and proportionality, which could amount to grave breaches of IHL. These cases mostly concerned incidents of:
 Direct attacks on homes causing many civilian deaths and injuries;
 Direct attacks on children (e.g. the four Bakr children playing on the beach and the Shuheibar children feeding pigeons on a house rooftop);
 Direct attacks on five UNRWA schools that were sheltering civilians;
 The bombing of mosques, hospitals and a shelter for people with severe disabilities;
 Attacks on civilian infrastructure and the municipality workers fixing them.

After Operation Protective Edge, Israel cynically created the Fact-Finding Assessment Mechanism (FFAM) to improve its investigative abilities but after three years, 46.4% of the complaints filed by Adalah and Al Mezan were referred to the FFAM for examination and then closed, without opening a criminal investigation or ordering further action against those involved. 43% of the complaints remain under examination by the FFAM or received no response.

The Military Advocate General’s responses to such cases:
 Secret evidence: The materials collected by the FFAM and other intelligence materials cannot be revealed because they are classified;
 Military necessity: Certain incidents in question were undertaken based on military necessity (these arguments were written vaguely and did not include any supporting evidence);
 No non-military witnesses: The FFAM did not find any need or use in taking testimonies from non-military witnesses.

This whole exercise may seem pointless because when has Israel ever been held accountable for its violations of international law?

This time things might be different.

Ms Fatou Bensouda

Ms Fatou Bensouda – Prosecutor

The Office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched a preliminary investigation. (pp. 25-32) But the ICC can’t assume jurisdiction in this case if the State of Israel has an effective mechanism for investigating and prosecuting these claims. In November 2016, the Prosecutor said she would “assess information on potentially relevant national proceedings, as necessary and appropriate.”

That’s why this report from Al-Mezan and Adalah is so very important. It clearly shows that Israel is incapable and unwilling to investigate and hold itself accountable. If the Prosecutor agrees, she can recommend that the ICC take the case.

Israel needs to be held accountable, sooner rather than later. This report provides the ammunition to open the courthouse doors. Bravo Al-Mezan and Adalah!

The case of the Abu Dahrouj family provides another illustration of Israel’s unwillingness to investigate. On the night of 22 August 2014, an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at a home belonging to the Abu Dahrouj family in central Gaza. The Israeli missile strike killed five members of the Abu Dahrouj family, including two children, and wounded multiple civilians and caused extensive damage to neighboring homes. Although [Israel] acknowledged that the missile attack was carried out directly on a civilian home and did not target any combatant or military object, no investigation was opened and the case was closed without any action against those involved.


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Filed under Gaza, IDF, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, United Nations

Human Rights Council demands accountability for war crimes in Gaza

UN HRC vote

Today (July 3, 2015) the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for accountability for possible war crimes committed in Gaza last summer.  The USA was the only member to vote NO.

Does President Obama and the others in the Administration understand the message this vote sends to the rest of the world?

Human Rights Council

Twenty-ninth session

Agenda item 7

Human rights situation in Palestine and other
occupied Arab territories

                         Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Cuba, Ecuador,* Namibia, Nicaragua,* Pakistan (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Tunisia* (on behalf of the Group of Arab States), Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of): draft resolution

29/…  Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

       The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling the relevant rules and principles of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, in particular the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, which is applicable to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Recalling also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the other human rights covenants, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,

Recalling further its relevant resolutions, including resolutions S-9/1 of 12 January 2009 and S-21/1 of 23 July 2014, and the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict,[1]

Expressing its appreciation to the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict for its comprehensive report,[2]

Affirming the obligation of all parties to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law,

Emphasizing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians, reaffirming the obligation to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and deploring the civilian deaths that resulted from the conflict in and around the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014, including the killing of 1,462 Palestinian civilians, including 551 children and 299 women, and six Israeli civilians,

Gravely concerned by reports regarding serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes, committed in the context of the military operations conducted in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2008 and 2009 and in 2014, particularly in the Gaza Strip, including the findings of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, of the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict, and of the boards of inquiry convened by the Secretary-General,

Condemning all violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law, and appalled at the widespread and unprecedented levels of destruction, death and human suffering caused,

Stressing the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967,

Deploring the non-cooperation by Israel with the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict and the refusal to grant access to or to cooperate with international human rights bodies seeking to investigate alleged violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Regretting the lack of implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which follows a pattern of lack of implementation of recommendations made by United Nations mechanisms and bodies,

Alarmed that long-standing systemic impunity for international law violations has allowed for the recurrence of grave violations without consequence, and stressing the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to end impunity, ensure justice, deter further violations, protect civilians and promote peace,

Emphasizing the need for States to investigate grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 to end impunity, uphold their obligations to ensure respect, and promote international accountability,

Noting the accession by Palestine to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 2 January 2015,

  1. Welcomes the report of the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict;2
  2. Calls upon all duty bearers and United Nations bodies to pursue the implementation of all recommendations contained in the report of the commission of inquiry, in accordance with their respective mandates;
  3. Notes the importance of the work of the commission of inquiry and of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict of 2009 and the information collected regarding grave violations in support of future accountability efforts, in particular, information on alleged perpetrators of violations of international law;
  4. Emphasizes the need to ensure that all those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law are held to account through appropriate fair and independent domestic or international criminal justice mechanisms, and to ensure the right of all victims to an effective remedy, including full reparations, and stresses the need to pursue practical steps towards these goals;
  5. Calls upon the parties concerned to cooperate fully with the preliminary examination of the International Criminal Court and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened;
  6. Calls upon all States to promote compliance with human rights obligations and all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to respect, and to ensure respect for, international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in accordance with article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions, and to fulfil their obligations under articles 146, 147 and 148 of the said Convention with regard to penal sanctions, grave breaches and the responsibilities of the High Contracting Parties;
  7. Recommends that the General Assembly remain apprised of the matter until it is satisfied that appropriate action with regard to implementing the recommendations made by the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict in its report has been or is being taken appropriately at the domestic or international levels to ensure justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators;
  8. Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to present, as part of the reporting requested by the Human Rights Council in its resolutions S-9/1 and S-12/1, a report on the implementation of the present resolution, as well as on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the reports of the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict and of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, to the Council at its thirty-first session;
  9. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

                                *    Non-member State of the Human Rights Council.

                     [1]   A/HRC/12/48.

                     [2]   A/HRC/29/52.

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, United Nations, US Policy

The U.N. Report on 2014 Gaza War – What do you see?

We see what we want to see.

(Those 7 small words explain everything.)

Whether it’s the Pope’s Encyclical on Care for Our Common Home, or the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about Same-Sex Marriage, or the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, we read them with our own biases and expectations, finding exactly what we thought we would find in each.

The psychologists call it confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is a phenomenon wherein decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or underweigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis.

Pope Francis is either meddling in politics, or he’s the best thing since sliced bread. Justice Kennedy and four of his breathren on the bench who ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry, have either dealt a blow to our Constitution or they’ve advanced liberty and equality in our country.

And how was the U.N. Independent Commission’s Report received?


If people read all 217 pages (I did), they will find alot of substance (summarized in a follow-up blog post). However, the swift reactions to the report were nearly as telling as the evidence gathered by the U.N. Commission. There were those who condemned it, others praised it, and a few wished to ignore it. But everyone found what they were looking for.

  • Israeli officials tried to preempt the U.N. Commission’s Report by releasing their own report a few days earlier. “Israel predicts the new report from the United Nations will be a hatchet job. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that anyone who wants to read ‘the truth’ should download the Israeli report. ‘Whoever wants to automatically — and without foundation — blame Israel, let them waste their time with the U.N. Human Rights Council report,’ he said.” Netanyahu probably didn’t appreciate the irony in his words — automatically jumping to conclusions, as he was, without seeing the U.N. Report. (Israel says war in Gaza was moral and deaths are the fault of Hamas, Washington Post, June 14, 2015, William Booth).
  • When the U.N. Report was released, Israeli officials appeared “particularly stung by its lumping together of the Israeli army with its arch enemy, Hamas.” … “Any fair inquiry into armed conflict must always draw a distinction between the aggressor and the side asserting its right to self-defense,” Dore Gold, director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said in an interview. “The fact that the United Nations report fails to distinguish between Israel and Hamas is one of its most central flaws.” (U.N. report on Gaza: Israel, Hamas may both have committed war crimes, The Washington Post, June 22, 2015, William Booth and Ruth Eglash)
  • The Washington Post summarized the “United Nations’ rather even-handed approach,” including links to other reports and opinions, but ended with a cautionary note that the U.N. Report would likely be added to the “growing case file at the International Criminal Court” which could place Israeli leaders alongside heinous fugitive war criminals such as Uganda guerrilla Joseph Kony, further deepening Israel’s growing international isolation. (The U.N. report on Israel’s Gaza War: What you need to know, Washington Post, June 22, 2015, Ishaan Tharoor)
  • What was the official U.S. government position?  Predictably, we echoed our good friend, Israel, and concluded the U.N. Report was biased from the start. Asked during a press conference if the State Department is reading the report, John Kirby, the State Dept. spokesperson responded: “Certainly we’re reading it. But as I also said yesterday, we challenge the very mechanism which created it. And so we’re not going to have a readout of this. We’re not going to have a rebuttal to it. We’re certainly going to read it, as we read all UN reports. But we challenge the very foundation upon which this report was written, and we don’t believe that there’s a call or a need for any further Security Council work on this.” (John Kirby, Spokesperson, Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC, June 23, 2015)
  • An opinion piece in The Guardian castigated the U.N. Commission’s Report for failure to establish the context of the conflict. Naturally, the context the author wanted to see was his own version of history. (The U.N. is preserving the Israeli occupation, The Guardian, June 26, 2015, Ari Shavit opinion)
  • The New York Times published an opinion piece by a retired British Army colonel who warned that the U.N. Report is “flawed and dangerous” and will “provoke further violence and loss of life.” (The U.N.’s Gaza Report is Flawed and Dangerous, The New York Times, June 25, 2015, Richard Kemp opinion). The author had earlier testified before the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry. Just to be even-handed, let’s see if The New York Times publishes an opinion piece by the parents of the four Bakr boys killed on the beach in Gaza.

Boys at beach

  • Norman Finkelstein, a controversial scholar and critic of the Israeli occupation, also found much to criticise in the U.N. Report. In an online Q&A, Finkelstein wrote: “A huge gap existed between the descriptions compiled in the report and the concomitant legal analysis in each section. The descriptions were graphic and compelling, but the legal analysis seemed to minimize Israel’s accountability. The reader senses that the person writing the legal analysis (probably [Judge Mary McGowan] Davis) was straining to be “fair,” to the point that it became unserious.” (UN report on Gaza war is ‘tepid,’ ‘unserious,’ and exhibits ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’. Mondoweiss, June 27, 2015)
  • The New York Times Editorial Board concluded that “It’s unrealistic to expect Hamas to follow international law but Israel has a duty, and should have a desire, to adjust its military policies to avoid civilian casualties and hold those who failed to do so accountable.” (War Crimes and the Gaza War, The New York Times, June 23, 2015, The Editorial Board)

In the report released on Monday by the UN commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza war, one passage stands out. “Palestinian and Israeli children were savagely affected by the events. Children on both sides suffered from bed-wetting, shaking at night, clinging to parents, nightmares and increased levels of aggressiveness.” Those words are a reminder that, in all the positioning and spinning that follows a report of this kind, the heart of the matter is the human cost, usually paid by the most vulnerable.

The death toll of last summer’s violence was lopsided – with more than 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis killed – but the UN report strains to understand the Israeli as well as Palestinian narrative behind those numbers.

Both sides like to claim the moral advantage, even while locked in a vicious conflict. If they really believe that, then they must bring those accused of grave crimes to justice.

Some found the U.N. Report provocative, inciteful or perhaps insightful, destructive, courageous, newsworthy, or a waste of time —- but each found the truth he/she was looking for.

A summary of the U.N. Report and “my” conclusions

follow in the next blog post.


Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Media, People, United Nations

#IDF soldiers in #Gaza speak out

As the mother of a US Navy veteran, I decided it was my responsibility to sit quietly and read the full report (240 pages) released by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli veteran combatants who expose the truth of their service in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The report details the brutal and unethical actions of #IDF soldiers and their commanders during the Protective Edge Operation in Gaza in the summer of 2014.

Mothers of warriors everywhere suffer alongside their sons and daughters when they go off to fight. I can’t imagine the unbelievable pain if they don’t return home. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers did not return home last summer. Fifteen soldiers committed suicide, slightly more than double the number from 2013.

In Gaza, civilian casualties greatly exceeded the number of resistance fighters who were killed. According to the United Nations, between July 7 and August 26, at least 2131 Palestinians were killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge.” 1473 of the dead were civilians, including 501 children and 257 women, with another 379 individuals yet to be identified.

The report is chilling.

This Is How We Fought In Gaza is a collection of testimonies from over 60 soldiers in mandatory and reserve service that took part in Operation “Protective Edge” in the Gaza Strip. About a quarter of the testifiers are officers that go all the way up to the rank of major. The testimonies underwent a meticulous investigative process to ensure their veracity. The testifiers, who served in various units – from ground, to naval, to air forces, and in headquarters and command centers – expose the nature of IDF operations in various combat zones. The testimonies in this collection close the yawning gaps between what the IDF and government spokespersons told the public about the combat scenarios, and the reality described by the soldiers that took part in the operation.

While the testimonies include pointed descriptions of inappropriate behavior by soldiers in the field, the more disturbing picture that arises from these testimonies reflects systematic policies that were dictated to IDF forces of all ranks and in all zones. The guiding military principle of “minimum risk to our forces, even at the cost of harming innocent civilians,” alongside efforts to deter and intimidate the Palestinians, led to massive and unprecedented harm to the population and the civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Policymakers could have predicted these results prior to the operation and were surely aware of them throughout.

Democracy Now featured the #IDF soldiers’ testimony and Breaking the Silence posted many clips on its website. I weep for the Palestinians and for these soldiers too. While commentators speculate that Netanyahu’s new coalition will move Israel further to the extreme, I think my focus has to be on educating Americans and the U.S. Congress about the “facts on the ground” in Gaza.

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Filed under Gaza, Israel Defense Forces

Gaza – a poor investment

Ceasefire or no ceasefire — the talk is already beginning about what happens next in Gaza?  Palestinian leaders are planning to ask world donors in September to cough up $6 Billion to help rebuild what Israel destroyed in just a matter of weeks. (That’s about 2 years worth of USA support given to Israel’s military.)

Should the international community pay for Israel’s wanton act of violence and destruction?  Or should Israelis be required to internalize the cost since an overwhelming majority of them supported Netanyahu’s campaign in Gaza?

I opt for the latter.

Nation-states, just like children, do not learn the consequences of their actions unless they are forced to feel the impacts directly. For nation-states, their pocketbooks can be persuasive.

Of course, this is only wishful thinking on my part.

No one will force Israel to pay for the rebuilding of Gaza even though, arguably, Israel has a legal responsibility to rebuild Gaza because of the military occupation it maintains.


It also appears to be an uphill battle at the ICC to hold Israel accountable for war crimes committed in Gaza, so we can expect to see another deadly military operation within the next year or two. Nothing and no one is putting the brakes on Netanyahu.

To top it off, two years ago this month, UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) issued a report that warned that the Gaza Strip will likely be unlivable by 2020 because of severe water pollution problems, electricity shortages, not enough schools, hospital beds, and doctors, among other things. Read the report here.

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin – CodePink

Past attempts to rebuild Gaza have failed, as this recent report notes.

In fact, $4.48 billion in pledges were made [in March 2009 following Operation Cast Lead] – 167% more than the PA had requested – a rare event in donor history. But the dire situation in Gaza today, in which infrastructure and people still suffer from the damage inflicted in that war, raises questions as to what proportion of the funds was ever received and if so, how and where were they disbursed. In fact, to this day, no comprehensive account exists that provides this information.

So it looks like Gaza is a very poor investment.

Why pump $6 Billion+ into this sliver of land when either the Israeli military will return to destroy it again, or Egypt will squeeze it, or it will fail under its own weight by 2020?



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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Uncategorized

9/11 and 12/27 – We Will Never Forget

Warning: Some people may find the following post offensive either because I draw a comparison between a tragedy in the USA with a tragedy in Gaza, or because I include heartbreaking pictures of the latter.

Americans 20 years or older won’t forget where they were on September 11, 2001.  Most Palestinians I spoke with during my stay in Gaza know about that tragedy too.

Palestinians 10 years or older (especially those living in Gaza) certainly know where they were on December 27, 2008. . . . and on December 28, 29, 30, 31, January 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18.  Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza five years ago was dubbed Operation Cast Lead by the IDF and lasted 23 days.  I suspect most Americans don’t know about Operation Cast Lead, but we should.

On 9/11, more than 3000 Americans died in a matter of hours:  2,753 died in lower Manhattan, 40 in a field near Shanksfield, PA, and 184 at the Pentagon in Washington. The perpetrators of this heinous crime were the fanatical followers of Osama bin Laden. He confessed and was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in May 2013.

New construction on the site of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan

New construction on the site of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan

The statistics vary about the number of Palestinians who lost their lives during those 23 days in 2008-09.  NGOs place the overall number of persons killed between 1,385 and 1,419, and more than 5,300 wounded. Approximately 3,500 homes were destroyed leaving more than 20,000 people in the Gaza Strip homeless.  

(Credits: all photos from Never Cast Lead Again blog)


In addition to homes, many mosques, U.N.-administered schools, universities, the power plant, and emergency medical crews were targeted. Because Israel refused to allow news reporters to enter the Gaza Strip (they sat on a hill at a distance and watched the slaughter from outside), the world must rely on the testimonies provided by witnesses to the fact-finding Goldstone Commission (summary here) (purchase e-book here) and personal blogs like this. I’ve written about Operation Cast Lead here.


The State of Israel has never been held accountable for the atrocities it committed during its Operation Cast Lead, despite the fact that the following legal findings, among others, were made by the United Nations fact-finding commission:

The Mission finds that in a number of cases Israel failed to take feasible precautions required by customary law reflected in article 57 (2) (a) (ii) of Additional Protocol I to avoid or minimize incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects. The firing of white phosphorus shells over the UNRWA compound in Gaza City is one of such cases in which precautions were not taken in the choice of weapons and methods in the attack, and these facts were compounded by reckless disregard for the consequences. The intentional strike at al-Quds hospital using high-explosive artillery shells and white phosphorous in and around the hospital also violated articles 18 and 19 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

destruction-beit-hanoungd6412951gaza-gaza-strip-fe-22021MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS35628_473629107381_229850487381_6306222_961716_n

The Mission finds that the different kinds of warnings issued by Israel in Gaza cannot be considered as sufficiently effective in the circumstances to comply with customary law as reflected in Additional Protocol I, article 57 (2) (c). While some of the leaflet warnings were specific in nature, the Mission does not consider that general messages telling people to leave wherever they were and go to city centres, in the particular circumstances of the military campaign, meet the threshold of effectiveness. Firing missiles into or on top of buildings as a “warning” is essentially a dangerous practice and a form of attack rather than a warning.


The Mission found numerous instances of deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects (individuals, whole families, houses, mosques) in violation of the fundamental international humanitarian law principle of distinction, resulting in deaths and serious injuries. In these cases the Mission found that the protected status of civilians was not respected and the attacks were intentional, in clear violation of customary law reflected in article 51 (2) and 75 of Additional Protocol I, article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

sifting-rubble-gaza-stripwp-gaza-2009-image01Israel Gaza Conflict Enters Fourth WeekNYHQ2009-0012MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSgaza-crisis-mosque-child

With regard to one incident investigated, involving the death of at least 35 Palestinians, the Mission finds that the Israeli armed forces launched an attack which a reasonable commander would have expected to cause excessive loss of civilian life in relation to the military advantage sought, in violation of customary international humanitarian law as reflected in Additional Protocol I, articles 57 (2) (a) (ii) and (iii). The Mission finds a violation of the right to life (ICCPR, article 6) of the civilians killed in this incident.


The Mission also concludes that Israel, by deliberately attacking police stations and killing large numbers of policemen (99 in the incidents investigated by the Mission) during the first minutes of the military operations, failed to respect the principle of proportionality between the military advantage anticipated by killing some policemen who might have been members of Palestinian armed groups and the loss of civilian life (the majority of policemen and members of the public present in the police stations or nearby during the attack). Therefore, these were disproportionate attacks in violation of customary
international law.


The Mission is firmly convinced that justice and respect for the rule of law are the indispensable basis for peace. The prolonged situation of impunity has created a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action.


The Mission notes that the responsibility to investigate violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, prosecute if appropriate and try perpetrators belongs in the first place to domestic authorities and institutions. This is a legal obligation incumbent on States and State-like entities. However, where domestic authorities are unable or unwilling to comply with this obligation, international justice mechanisms must be activated to prevent impunity.


The Mission believes that, in the circumstances, there is little potential for accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law through domestic institutions in Israel and even less in Gaza. The Mission is of the view that long-standing impunity has been a key factor in the perpetuation of violence in the region and in the reoccurrence of violations, as well as in the erosion of confidence among Palestinians and many Israelis concerning prospects for justice and a peaceful solution to the conflict.


The Mission considers that the serious violations of international humanitarian law recounted in this report fall within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

The rule of law is the only thing that separates us from the beasts in the jungle. I wish Bin Laden had been brought to justice in a courtroom. I hope Israeli military commanders will be brought to justice in a courtroom someday. I hope American taxpayers will refuse to finance the Israeli occupation and war crimes, to the tune of $3 billion per year. Without accountability, there is no justice. Until that day, the world must not forget the atrocities perpetrated upon the Palestinians in Gaza five years ago.

The video contains 1106 slides composed of 981 picture slides, 87 Text Files and 38 Title Slides. Viewing time is 2:08 hours. It took about 1450 hours to complete the original presentation on May 15, 2011.


Filed under Gaza, Israel, Video

War crimes hearing aborted

There was suppose to be a hearing in August before the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia against Amos Yaron and the State of Israel.  The prosecution team was supposed to make an argument that Israel was guilty of genocide against the Palestinians. Instead, they blew this precious opportunity by ranting and behaving inappropriately in front of the Justices, demanding that one of the seven Justices recuse himself. The tribunal listened to them patiently, rejected their demands, and then when the lawyers for the prosecution refused to proceed, the Tribunal had no other choice but to adjourn sine die.

Read the decision here, or watch the short video clip.  A shameful example of advocacy in my opinion.

Amos Yaron was charged individually with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for his role as an Israeli General in charge of the massacre that occurred in June 1982 in the Sabra and Shatilla Palestinian refugee camps.

In 1993, the American attorney on the prosecution team in this case, Professor Francis Boyle, won two world court orders in favor of Bosnia against Yugoslavia for crimes of genocide, but he blew it 20 years later in Malaysia.

Here’s what he would have said to the Kuala Lumpur Tribunal in August if he’d had the chance.

The Palestinian Genocide by



  By Professor Francis A. Boyle


The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal

August 21-24, 2013

(Check against oral delivery.)

As-salam alaykum.  Distinguishable Judges of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal.  May it please the Tribunal:

The Palestinians have been the victims of genocide as defined by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.  I say that because of my practical experience: On 8 April 1993 and 13 September 1993 I single-handedly won two World Court Orders on the basis of the 1948 Genocide Convention that were overwhelmingly in favor of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Yugoslavia to cease and desist from committing all acts of genocide against the Bosnians in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention.  This was the first time ever that any Government had won two such Orders in one case since the World Court was founded in 1921.  On 5August 1993 I also won a so-called Article 74(4) World Court Order for Bosnia against Yugoslavia for genocide.  According to I.C.J. Statute Article 74(4), when the full World Court is not in session in The Hague, the President of the Court exercises the full powers of the Court and can issue an Order to the parties in a lawsuit that is legally binding upon them.

Article II of the Genocide Convention defines the international crime of genocide in relevant part as follows:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group such as:

(a)        Killing members of the group;

(b)        Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c)        Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;


As documented by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in his seminal book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Israel’s genocidal policy against the Palestinians has been unremitting, extending from before the very foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, and is ongoing and even now intensifying against the 1.75 million Palestinians living in Gaza as this Tribunal convenes here today.  As Pappe’s analysis established, Zionism’s “final solution” to Israel’s much-touted and racist “demographic threat” allegedly posed by the very existence of the Palestinians has always been genocide, whether slow-motion or in blood-thirsty spurts of violence.  Indeed, the very essence of Zionism requires ethnic cleansing and acts of genocide against the Palestinians.  For example, concerning the 2008-2009 Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza – so-called Operation Cast-lead — U.N. General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua during the Reagan administration’s contra-terror war of aggression against that country which was condemned by the World Court, condemned it as “genocide.”[1]

Certainly, Israel and its predecessors-in-law-the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs-have committed genocide against the Palestinian people that actually started on or about 1948 and has continued apace until today in violation of Genocide Convention Articles II(a), (b), and (c).  For over the past six and one-half decades, the Israeli government and its predecessors-in-law-the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs-have ruthlessly implemented a systematic and comprehensive military, political, religious, economic, and cultural campaign with the intent to destroy in substantial part the national, ethnical, racial, and different religious group (Jews versus Muslims and Christians) constituting the Palestinian people.  This Zionist/Israeli campaign has consisted of killing members of the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(a).  This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also caused serious bodily and mental harm to the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(b).  This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also deliberately inflicted on the Palestinian people conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in substantial part in violation of Article II(c) of the Genocide Convention.

Nevertheless, apologists for Israel have argued that since these mass atrocities are not tantamount to the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews, therefore they do not qualify as “genocide.” Previously, I had encountered and refuted this completely disingenuous, deceptive and bogus argument against labeling genocide for what it truly is, when I was the Lawyer for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina arguing their genocide case against Yugoslavia before the International Court of Justice. There the genocidal Yugoslavia was represented by Shabtai Rosenne from Israel as their Lawyer against me.  Rosenne proceeded to argue to the World Court that since he was an Israeli Jew, what Yugoslavia had done to the Bosnians was not the equivalent of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews and therefore did not qualify as “genocide” within the meaning of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

I rebutted Rosenne by arguing to the World Court that you did not need an equivalent to the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews in order to find that wholesale atrocities against a civilian population constitute “genocide” in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention.  Indeed the entire purpose of the 1948 Genocide Convention was to prevent another Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. That is why Article I of the Genocide Convention clearly provided:  “The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.”  (Emphasis supplied.)  You did not need six million dead human beings in order to constitute “genocide.”

Furthermore, in support of my successful 1993 genocide argument to the World Court for Bosnia, I submitted that Article II of the 1948 Genocide Convention expressly provided: “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group, as such.” (Emphasis supplied.)  In other words, that to be guilty of genocide a government did not have to intend to destroy the “whole” group as the Nazis intended to do with the Jews. Rather, a government can be guilty of genocide even if it intends to destroy a mere “part” of the group.  Certainly Yugoslavia did indeed intend to exterminate all Bosnian Muslims if they could have gotten away with it, as manifested by their subsequent mass extermination of at least 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in July of 1995.  I would later become the Attorney-of-Record for the Mothers of Srebrenica and Podrinja at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (I.C.T.Y.).  In that capacity, I convinced the I.C.T.Y. Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte to indict Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for every crime in the I.C.T.Y. Statute for the atrocities he inflicted upon the Bosnians, including two counts of genocide — one count of genocide for Bosnia in general, and the second count of genocide for Srebrenica in particular.  Milosevic died while on trial in The Hague after the I.C.T.Y denied his Motion to Dismiss these charges after the close of the Prosecution’s case.

But in 1993 it was not necessary for me to argue to the World Court that Yugoslavia intended to exterminate all the Bosnian Muslims.  Rather, I argued to the World Court that at that point in time the best estimate was that Yugoslavia had exterminated about 250,000 Bosnians out of the population of about 4 million Bosnians, including therein about 2.5 million Bosnian Muslims.  Therefore, I argued to the World Court that these dead victims constituted a “substantial part” of the group and that the appropriate interpretation of the words “or in part” set forth in Article II of the Genocide Convention should mean a “substantial part.”

The World Court emphatically agreed with me and rejected Rosenne’s specious, reprehensible, and deplorable arguments.  So on 8 April 1993 the International Court of Justice issued an Order for three provisional measures of protection on behalf of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Yugoslavia that were overwhelmingly in favor of Bosnia to cease and desist from committing all acts of genocide against all the Bosnians, both directly and indirectly by means of its Bosnian Serb surrogates. This World Court Order for the indication of provisional measures of protection was the international equivalent of a U.S. domestic Temporary Restraining Order and Injunction combined.  The same was true for the Second World Court Order with three additional provisional measures of protection that I won for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Yugoslavia on 13 September 1993.  The same was true for the Article 74(4) Order I won for Bosnia against Yugoslavia from the World Court on 5 August 1993.

In its final Judgment on the merits in the Bosnia case that was issued on 26 February 2007, the World Court definitively agreed with me once and for all time that in order to constitute genocide, a state must only intend to destroy a “substantial part” of the group “as such”:

198. In terms of that question of law, the Court refers to three matters relevant to the determination of “part” of the “group” for the purposes of Article II.  In the first place, the intent must be to destroy at least a substantial part of the particular group.  That is demanded by the very nature of the crime of genocide:  since the object and purpose of the Convention as a whole is to prevent the intentional destruction of groups, the part targeted must be significant enough to have an impact on the group as a whole.  That requirement of substantiality is supported by consistent rulings of the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and by the Commentary of the ILC to its Articles in the draft Code of Crimes against the Peace and Security of mankind (e.g. Krstić, IT-98-33-A, Appeals Chamber Judgment, 19 April 2004, paras. 8-11 and the cases of Kayishema, Byilishema,  and  Semanza there referred to; and Yearbook of the International Law Commission, 1996, Vol. II, Part Two, p. 45, para. 8 of the Commentary to Article 17).

In other words, in order to find Israel guilty of genocide against the Palestinians, it is not required to prove that Israel has the intention to exterminate all Palestinians.  Rather, all that is necessary is to establish that Israel intends to destroy a “substantial part” of the Palestinians.  Furthermore, in paragraphs 293 and 294 of its 26 February 2007 BosnianJudgment, the World Court found that you did not even need 250,000 exterminated Bosnians in order to constitute genocide — let alone six million exterminated Jews.   Rather, even the seven thousand exterminated Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica were enough to constitute genocide. According to the World Court, these victims constituted about one-fifth of the Srebrenica community.

Starting in 1948 Israel obliterated about 500 Palestinian villages from off the face of the earth, literally reducing them to rubble now scattered across the Palestinian countryside in order to prevent their ethnically cleansed inhabitants from ever again returning to their homes because they no longer exist.  And the list of Israeli genocidal massacres of Palestinian communities is quite extensive.  To name just a few of Israel’s most notorious acts of anti-Palestinian genocide: Deir Yassin, Tantura, Sabra and Shatilla, Jenin, Nablus, and repeatedly and continuously Gaza.  As we meet here today, Israel is “deliberately inflicting on the [1.75 million Palestinians in Gaza] conditions of life calculated to bring about [their] physical destruction in whole or in part” in gross and flagrant violation of Genocide Convention Article II(c).

In order to prevent yet another and predictable wholesale slaughter and acts of genocide by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and elsewhere, we most respectfully request this Tribunal to condemn Israel guilty as charged for genocide as well as for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Article I of the Genocide Convention requires: “The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.”  The Genocide Convention has been incorporated into the Charter of Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal by means of Article 10.

Pursuant thereto, it is respectfully submitted that this Tribunal must “undertake to prevent and to punish” Israel for its genocide against the Palestinians by finding Israel guilty as charged.  Should this Tribunal find Israel guilty as charged for genocide, it will then trigger the solemn obligation found in Article I of the Genocide Convention for every state in the world community to likewise “undertake to prevent and to punish” Israel for its ongoing genocide against the Palestinians.  The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal must issue this shot heard around the entire world on behalf of the Palestinians by finding Israel guilty of genocide against them.

This is exactly what the International Court of Justice did for Bosnia and the Bosnians in 1993 when it ruled against Yugoslavia on genocide. The World Court deliberately shook up the entire world and propelled humanity to act to save Bosnia and the Bosnians from annihilation and extermination by Yugoslavia. Bosnia and the Bosnians are still alive today thanks in significant part to that 1993 World Court ruling on genocide.

I am respectfully asking the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal to do the same today for Palestine and the Palestinians. Shake up the entire world! Get humanity to act to save Palestine and the Palestinians from further annihilation and genocide by Israel!  Make sure that Palestine and the Palestinians are still alive twenty years from now! Convict Israel for genocide!

Thank you.  And may God be with you when you retire to deliberate upon your Judgment.

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